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Family Physician

Family physicians are licensed to diagnose and treat patients’ physical and mental diseases, disorders, injuries, and other health-related problems.

Also Known As

Doctor, Family Doctor, General Practitioner, Medical Doctor

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: General Practitioners and Family Physicians (3112) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: General Practitioners and Family Physicians (D012) 
  • 2011 NOC: General practitioners and family physicians (3112) 
  • 2016 NOC: General practitioners and family physicians (3112) 
  • 2021 NOC: General practitioners and family physicians (31102) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

General Practitioners and Family Physicians

2006 NOC: 3112

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in precision working to diagnose diseases, prescribe treatments and provide continuous care to patients

SOCIAL

Interest in mentoring by providing counselling and support to patients and their families on a wide range of health and lifestyle issues, by advising patients and their families on health care including health promotion and disease, illness and accident prevention and by referring patients to specialists

DIRECTIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information from the results of medical tests to advise patients on health care options; in providing acute care management, in co-ordinating or managing primary patient care and in supervising home care services

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Family physicians are highly skilled generalists. They diagnose and treat patients’ physical and mental diseases, disorders, injuries, and other health-related problems.

In general, family physicians:

  • take medical histories and examine patients
  • order, perform and interpret medical tests to screen and diagnose (or prevent) medical conditions
  • determine suitable treatments (such as lifestyle change, surgery, medication, or more complex treatment or rehabilitation programs)
  • discuss health care and healthy lifestyle choices with patients (including diet and activity)
  • refer patients to specialist physicians (as necessary)
  • take part in health care teams and work with other health care providers (such as other physicians, nurses and pharmacists)
  • teach and train students
  • conduct research and integrate best evidence into practice
  • advocate on behalf of patients
  • help create, organize and introduce changes to improve overall health in the community
  • use technology to keep detailed medical records (such as an Electronic Medical Record)
  • co-ordinate patient care across health care settings and with other health care providers
  • adhere to established professional standards of ethical practice.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Family physicians may work in hospitals, clinics, offices, and community settings. As a result, their working conditions vary. Most days, family physicians see a stream of patients. Sometimes they work at various locations (such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or patients’ homes), which can involve a lot of driving. The work offers rewards and challenges. It is emotionally demanding.

Family physicians often work long hours. They may have rotating shifts or be on call. Most spend some time on their feet (to examine or treat patients) and some time at a desk doing paperwork. Those in private practice manage their own careers, company finances, and human resources.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Family physicians need to possess:

  • the academic intelligence to complete the required studies
  • the ability to continue lifelong learning
  • people skills and the ability to inspire confidence
  • the stamina required to work long hours
  • emotional strength and maturity
  • a commitment to high standards and professional ethics
  • speaking and listening skills
  • leadership skills
  • teamwork skills.

They should enjoy:

  • problem solving
  • dealing with people
  • coordinating the work of others.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

General practitioners and family physicians

2016 NOC: 3112

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 21 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 19, 2021 and Dec 06, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Prescribe and administer medications and treatments
Tasks: Advise patients on health care
Prescribe and administer medications and treatments
Examine patients and take their histories, order laboratory tests, X-rays and other diagnostic procedures
Consult with other medical practitioners to evaluate patients' physical and mental health
Communicate health promotion, disease, illnes and accident prevention to patients
Tasks: Examine patients and take their histories, order laboratory tests, X-rays and other diagnostic procedures
Tasks: Communicate health promotion, disease, illnes and accident prevention to patients
Tasks: Co-ordinate or manage primary patient care
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education 8+ years post-secondary

Family physicians must successfully complete:

  1. pre-medicine studies at the university level
  2. a 3- or 4-year medical doctor (MD) degree program at an accredited university
  3. a post-graduate training program in family medicine (minimum 2 years to complete).

MD programs in Canada are quota programs. This means many applicants who fulfill the entrance requirements do not get in. Successful applicants are selected on the basis of:

  • academic grades
  • letters of recommendation
  • interviews
  • the results of a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) (where applicable).

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

University of Alberta
University of Calgary

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Physician, Surgeon and Osteopath

Physicians and surgeons assess the physical, mental and psychosocial condition of individuals to establish a diagnosis; assist individuals to make informed choices about medical and surgical treatments; treat physical, mental and psychosocial conditions; promote wellness, injury avoidance, disease prevention and cure through research and education; and engage in research, education and administration with respect to health. Osteopaths use manual techniques to assess, diagnose and treat diseases, disorders and dysfunctions of the body's structure.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Physicians, Surgeons and Osteopaths Profession Regulation, you must be a registered member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) to practice medicine in Alberta.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Physician, Surgeon and Osteopath.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Many family physicians work in private practice clinics or for regional health authorities. Others work in:

  • medical research
  • public health
  • occupational medicine
  • health administration
  • overseas service
  • military service.

Family physicians may continue their education to specialize in other areas such as sports medicine. For a current list of recognized specializations, see the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) websites.

Family physicians are part of the 2011 National Occupational Classification 3112: General practitioners and family physicians. In Alberta, 94% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 3112: General practitioners and family physicians occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.4% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 206 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Sep 29, 2022

Family physicians in private practice are self-employed. Their incomes vary a lot. Factors include location,  number of patient visits, and the cost of running a medical office.

Family physicians are part of the larger 2016 National Occupational Classification 3112: General practitioners and family physicians.

According to the 2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the General practitioners and family physicians occupational group earned on average from $34.83 to $56.17 an hour. The overall average was $38.61 an hour. For more information, see the General practitioners and family physicians wage profile.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Alberta College of Family Physicians (ACFP) website: www.acfp.ca

Alberta Medical Association (AMA) website: www.albertadoctors.org

College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) website: www.cfpc.ca

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) website: www.cpsa.ca

Medical Council of Canada (MCC) website: mcc.ca

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) website: www.royalcollege.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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